Summer 2021 at Tredivett Mill

June has arrived in the countryside and in our Nature Reserve our animal collection is very much alive, and the weather is summer like. Swallows are flying incredibly high plucking insects out of the air.

A further baby lynx has been born on 2nd June, so now both females have produced offspring and all are doing well. Initially each mother keeps her own young in a separate house but within ten days the two females, who are sisters, look after the young together and feed them as a creche.

On Friday 4th June, the peahen came from her hidden nesting place with two chicks. In order to save them from foxes, we have put them all in a very large aviary.

On Saturday 5th, we saw two stoats chasing one another near the road on the way to Bratton, Clovelly.

On Sunday, walking the dogs on their morning exercise, I saw a fox near the chicken coops of a local farmer and on the same walk watched a pair of roe deer in the first large field I normally come to and which is now being rested from sheep and their new 2021 lambs.

Gary and Rhiannon came to see us. They are to become Trustees of the charity, which we very much welcome. Gary has had considerable lifetime experience in zoos and other management, and Rhiannon is a veterinary surgeon practising in Cornwall.
They took our large sulcata tortoise to treat its mouth ulcer (it’s been treated successfully and I have since given this tortoise to them).
On 8th June, I noticed the young fallow bucks are growing their first antlers ‘in velvet’. They are just two inch knobs at the moment.

On 9th Andy Johnson took the three lynx kittens and a pair of leopard cats back to his zoo in Huntingdon, Cambridgehire.

We moved two agouti and our female Asian otter to Andy at Axe Valley Zoo.

On 11th June, while driving to Padstow to have lunch at St. Petrocs, we spotted a red kite on the way, the third this year.

On Saturday 12th, Gary and Rhiannon collected the black and white ruffed lemur and red ruffed lemur. They have lived separately since the black and white lost his mate. They are going to be moved in together on the basis that it will be new territory to them both.

Siskins were feeding on sunflower seeds and a greater spotted woodpecker on peanuts and fat balls.

On Saturday 13th, Todd took back the young male jaguarundi as the female is on loan from him as a mate to our male.

We are planning to simplify our life and reduce our responsibilities which is why we are moving animals, but most will go to Gary and Rhiannon and they will become part of the Cornwall Nature Conservancy.

On Monday 14th June, while walking the dogs I saw two huge dog foxes bickering. They saw me and moved off in different directions.
On this day the first young fallow fawn was born – a true life ‘bambi’.

On 16th we set off for the Scillies which is the subject of a separate essay.

On our first day back from the Scillies was the 24th June. On our bird feeders and nearby were:

Blue tit
Wood pigeons cooing woke us
Hedge Sparrow
Song thrush singing
Great tit

The same day our second fallow deer was born. The Rothschilds mynahs appear to have three chicks.

On 25th June, siskins were feeding. We set up the ‘brooder’ as the Rothschilds male attacked the chicks. Only one was left alone but died soon after.

July 1st was cloudy but warm. Many youngsters birds about, namely blue tit, great tit, coal tit, hedge sparrow and chaffinch on our bird table and feeders. Jackdaws around the nesting boxes.

Young squirrels and rabbits in all the fields and hedgerows.

Young buzzards are mewing and whining begging for food as they start life on their own.

On 2nd July a fox took our young male peacock after a very heavy rain, just a few feathers left.

On 3rd, a fox found our young female peahen. This time not even a feather left.
We saved the chicks and gave them to Laura who owns some donkies and a small group of poultry. She was delighted.

Thank heavens we placed our eldest pea cock in an aviary.

The beginning of the month was very changeable – warm but also very wet.
Nevertheless we saw a good number of butterflies as follows:

Red admiral
Small tortoiseshell
Speckled brown
Heath brown
A profusion of damselflies frequently on our entrance lane and fields.

A good lot of garden birds were seen in the first few days.

They included
Blue tit
Great tit
Coal tit
Long tailed tit
Song thrush
Wood pigeon
Collared dove
Stock dove
Hedge Sparrow

On 7th on a trip to Salcombe to see a sailing friend we spotted several swifts – first of the year.

Young peacocks are doing well.

On 9th July we saw a young kingfisher flying up the stream in the afternoon, probably trying to find a territory. Then I heard him again about thirty minutes later.

On 10th we have over a dozen baby long tailed tits on our table and hanging feeders, clearly just fledged.

The next day, believe it or not, we had a herring gull flying very near the bird table.
I have been throwing fatty meat (not suitable for our carnivores) onto the barn roof and we have noticed several gulls eating this food in late afternoon.

It was a good day as on the dog walk, I watched a fox running in a sheep field watching many young rabbits. Two jays were shrieking in the wood and an otter splashed in our stream.

On 13th July, a pipistrelle bat flew into our bedroom. It spent about five minutes flying around the room before it flew through the French windows which we had opened.
14th July was a sad day, as we, Cherry and I attended Lyn’s funeral.

Cherry had known Lyn for sixty years and deeply misses her. Lyn used to love coming to see our animals and particularly enjoyed piggleton, our tame Kunikuni boar.

On 14th in the dog exercise field I watched marbled white, heath brown, small white and small tortoiseshell butterflies.

The next day I noted all the above as well as grayling and red admiral.

On 18th July, at the start of a wonderful sunny day and while we were still in bed, a kingfisher visited us, sitting on the telephone wire a few feet from us. We watched through wide open French doors and saw also goldfinches, coal tits, sparrow, blue tits and a huge family of long tailed tits.

The jackdaws had finished nesting in the boxes but still use them as family homes. However, the house sparrows are still breeding in their purpose build terrace.

On 24th July, we woke up to the first nights rain after a brilliant dry spell up to 250 – 300.
I recorder the chiffchaff and blackcap as still singing as well as the wood pigeons and dunnocks. What a day we are having; a pair of bullfinches and a pair of greater spotted woodpeckers visited our feeding station. This was the first time in thirty-eight years that bullfinches have visited our hangers. A young blue tit flew into the window, fell to the floor semi-conscious but recovered after five minutes in the warmth of my cupped hand.
On 25th July, with the dogs, I saw a silver washed fritillary, having already seen a pearl bordered fritillary some weeks ago. Later that day a stunning comma settled in the dog walk field.

Because of these sightings I decided to list the butterflies seen this year as well as dragonflies and damselflies:

Large white
peacock marbled white
Small white
red admiral
Clouded yellow
small tortoiseshell
speckled wood
Green veined white
pearl bordered fritillary
Wood white
silver washed fritillary
small heath
Orange tip
common blue
meadow brown
Holly blue

Twenty-two in all, todate.

Golden ringed dragonfly
four spotted libellula
banded damselfly
Common blue damselfly

26th July the male bullfinch and female siskin returned to the hanging feeders together with a family of long tailed tits and goldfinches.

The chiffchaff and blackcap have stopped singing; wood pigeon still crooning and buzzards mewing.

27th July, again the male bullfinch came to the sunflower seeds. Several mistle thrushes are frequently in the Deer Paddocks. We hardly ever saw them before this year.

28th July, the young fawns are now part of the herd.

29th July, a super conditioned red admiral feeding in the hedgerow was seen.

30th July, a very heavy storm and rain last night. Did not affect the bullfinches visiting again with chaffinch, goldfinch and all the tit families.

On the last day of the month, we had another visit from a kingfisher as well as nuthatch, tits and others.

A male caracal came to us from Dr Terry Moor at the Cat Survival Trust. He is about fourteen weeks and stunning. We are due to pick up a female from Exmoor Zoo now that we have the male.

August 1st was wet at first but later became a sunny day. Again, the pair of bullfinches visited us and a family of siskins, male, female and young.

In the dog exercise field I spotted an absolutely perfect specimen of comma butterfly.

2nd August, again, we had the male bullfinch visit. Herring gulls flying around hoping for free food. We obliged, their numbers have fallen dramatically. It is sad that they don’t have a better reputation.

Tuesday 3rd August, was a fine day; when walking the dogs at about 5pm a pair of treecreepers were arguing with light cheeping on the stream fence and boundary trees, a first this year at Tredivett Mill. Above us were ‘mewing’ buzzards, croaking ravens and herring gulls whining.

On Thursday 5th August, no bullfinches today. The young male caracal is settling in and eating well.

August 6th, another good sighting of the kingfisher on the rope holding all our feeders. Later a female bullfinch fed on the sunflower seed.

On our evening dog walk a lovely comma butterfly was feeding on white flowers and a wood white was fluttering about the longer grass. Great spotted woodpeckers ‘peeping’ and flying tree to tree.

On Saturday 7th, it was fine when we awoke and fed the dogs. By 8am it was raining which it did for most of the morning. A pair of siskins and a family of goldfinches fed at our seed feeders.

On Sunday 8th, our first hornet of the season came into our bedroom last night.

A pair of foxes were squabbling in the Deer Paddock at 5.30pm. I watched for ten minutes before they looked up and spotted me. Immediately each ran away in different directions.

Gary and Rhiannon who visited us last weekend say that they saw a female muntjac and fawn in our lane as they left in the dark. They knew ours well as they personally caught them. This female was identified as a long-legged specimen – definitely not an escapee!

Two young jaguarundi kits discovered, probably born last night, that is Sunday 8th August. One is very dark and one reddish. The female is a very good mother, very protective.

Tuesday 10th, on our walk with the dogs noticed some of the fields have been cut for hay. A family of magpies is checking over the pasture to look for insects or even small creatures, damaged by the cutters.

Families of swallows, swept and swerved low over the same field catching low flying insects.

Wednesday 11th August, we have now four young fallow deer, all getting on well together. They are very attractive little creatures. So we are very happy we have a good mixed herd, mature does, several in their second year, including two young stags with ‘prong antlers’ growing in velvet and four youngsters for 2021.

Thursday 12th, Jaguarundi kits are doing well, mother is very protective.

A common blue butterfly in the dog field.

Friday 13th, Rab, I and Kirsty (one of our keen volunteers) visited Exmoor Zoo, taking a female Azara’s agouti with us and bringing back a male agouti and the female caracal, born some eight months ago and promised to us. She is much larger than our little male. So, they are kept separately and once they are the same size both will be introduced to each other in a much larger enclosure where neither has claimed territory.

Enjoyed a really good conversation with Danny Reynolds who is the owner of Exmoor Zoo and enjoyed a really good guided walk around the zoo.

The zoo has recently become a charity and I am delighted to join Danny and his wife, the founding Trustees. It is a real privilege.

On Saturday 14th I heard a green woodpecker yaffling nearby.

There were a good number of butterflies about and flying ants erupting all around Tredivett Mill and dropping their wings in soft piles like snow.

On Sunday 15th August which was very dull, we had another hornet come into our bedroom. We have been forced to close our windows until our lights are out as the light attracts them.

Thursday 19th August, having heard a green woodpecker yaffling, we suddenly watched a mature green woodpecker flying over our heads in the dog exercise field toward the Deer Paddock.

At last we have, by cutting areas of grass very short for the dog walk and in the field with the Gypsy Caravan, attracted green woodpeckers. These birds mainly feed on short grass, looking for ants and the pupae. The greater spotted feeds mainly on trees and rotten wood.

This is only the second time we have had green woodpeckers at Tredivett Mill – we are thrilled and very excited. Again it is a proof if you giver the correct habitat, food, water and breeding boxes that wild life will come.

On Friday 20th August, again we were visited by a kingfisher, probably the same bird.
On our walk-in a nearby lane with the dogs, we watched a pair of greater spotted woodpeckers. A common shrew was dead on the ground.

The following week passed quickly.
The caracals are settling in well. The male is brave and very much ‘in your face’! The female is quieter and more nervous.
On 27th we let out the senior female peahen and her two semi grown ‘pealets’ from the enclosure to live wild and free. The young can now fly well and roost in tall trees. They certainly appear to enjoy their freedom.
On 31st August which was dry, clear and about 200 C swallows glided very low over the fields. A greater spotted woodpecker called ‘puk puk’, a jay shrieked and wood pigeons coo’ed. It was relatively cool for summer. But, what a day; on the walk with the dogs I watched a young fox walking around catching worms and other invertebrates, with rabbits watching him closely.

A pair of stoats dashed across the road in front of us. They were so fast the dogs hardly noticed.

When walking back up our drive an adult pair of green woodpeckers flew from one field to a tree on the drive into the Deer Paddocks. They then flew back literally a few feet above us. I could clearly see the red heads, vibrant green and acid yellow plumage.

What an end to the month!

I hope these fairly detailed notes have been interesting, albeit a bit late. At least I am right up to date and who knows what the autumn and winter will bring. ‘Covid’ is certainly not under control in Cornwall but we have to trust in all being fully vaccinated.

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